Vacation Reflections

I just returned from a wonderful week-long vacation to Europe with my man. Traveling to other countries always puts a number of things into perspective. For one thing, I definitely appreciate the permanence of home. Living out of a suitcase can be tedious and rather annoying, especially if you are a neat freak and wrinkly clothes make you cringe. Going away on an adventure is a lot of fun, but coming home to a puppy wiggling her whole body in excitement to see you and big bear hugs from your parents is so very special.

As it was our first big trip together and the first time we spent more than a handful of days together since our camping trip last August, our European trip was a true relationship test, one I think we passed with flying colors. Neither of us was familiar with our destinations or the native language (German), so we were, in a sense, isolated and could only depend on the familiarity of one another. We were together every second of every day. Honestly, I was a bit nervous to see how our relationship would survive such a trial. I should not have been nervous though because, while we had a few spats born from exhaustion, hunger and frustration, I felt that our relationship grew stronger and I love him more than I did before (if that is possible).

Throughout our trip, I kept thinking “will I remember all of this?” I tried to keep a journal, but as I established in my first blog entry, keeping a journal never lasts long. I thought back on my past trips around the world (I have been fortunate to travel quite extensively) and what I remember most is the natural beauty.

There are so many beautiful man-made structures and works of art in this world, yet nature has a lasting impression on me. The fabulous sculptures and architecture lining the streets of cities older than US government are truly spectacular.

Vienna sculptureHowever, the natural scenery takes my breath away. I will remember standing on top of Jenner Mountain and feeling the wind kiss my face longer than I will remember walking through room after room of the impressive Hapsburg silver collection in Vienna.

Jenner MountainImperial silver collectionManmade items are absolutely amazing – take the internet, 3D printing (what?!), and medical technology. Yet I am more amazed by the immense root systems of an aspen, the majesty of a mountain, and the changing colors of a chameleon.

I recently read an article about how humans have accomplished so much, but we cannot yet successfully recreate the environments on earth (read about Biosphere 2). While these failures to recreate provide so much valuable data to research, it also indicates how intricate, complex, and delicate our planet is. So while domes, arches, and mountain roads impress me, I am more likely to remember how it feels to stand on a mountain, hike through a canyon, or dive in the sea because those environments are truly amazing.

Zell Am See glaciarTraveling always makes me more aware of my surroundings when I return home. While visiting a new place, I am constantly aware, searching for the new and strange. At home, it is easy to get sucked into routine and stop taking notice. As I drove to work this morning, I caught myself seeing new things that I must have driven by over 200 times before. I walked down to the river yesterday with Molly and actually saw the yellow wildflowers growing to be as tall as I. How long had they been there? I like to think I am observant (though T would probably beg to differ), but coming home makes me more aware of what is around me. I appreciate it more. Perhaps this time, I won’t get lost in routine.

And so my trip ends. The vacation we have been planning for months is something of the past. I am back in my cave, hunched over the computer. I find myself wondering how I will get through each workweek when the weekends will be filled with fall adventures and the approaching holidays.